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Christabel and the Jons at Steve Wildsmith

Steve Wildsmith

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Archive for the ‘Christabel and the Jons’ tag

Farewell (but not goodbye) to the lovely, talented Christabel

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First, the bad news: You don’t have many chances to see Christa DeCicco, the fabulous front lady for “sultry Southern swing” outfit Christabel and the Jons, perform before she moves away from East Tennessee.

The good news: The band is staying together, and DeCicco, who will lead her group in its last Knoxville bar performance before she departs for St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, plans on returning to Knoxville regularly.

“We’ve been down there three times on tour, and I just really love it down there,” DeCicco told us. “I felt a real connection to it, and I’ve had a wish since I was a child to live someplace tropical, by the beach.”

When her chef boyfriend got a job offer in St. Thomas, that dream was realized. And while the sun, sand and palm trees would do wonders for any soul, she’s looking forward to easing off of a grueling tour schedule with her long-time band.

“I’ve been wanting to tour less anyway, because I need a little more home time to write songs and record some albums,” she said. “I’ve got almost two albums worth of songs now, and I’ve got this wonderful, beautiful side project with (former Black Lillies vocalist) Leah Gardner, and it’s getting to where I just can’t do that and tour at the same time. I  wanted to take a little break to accomplish those goals, and this fell into my lap at the same time.”

Right now, the plan is to bring the band — drummer Jon Whitlock, multi-instrumentalist Amanda Cagle and bass player Taylor Coker — back to St. Thomas for a month-long residency during the winter (”And it’ll be easier having a car and an apartment,” she said); spending the rest of the winter playing solo beach bar gigs; and traveling back to the States to tour with the Jons roughly three times a year, in spring, summer and fall.

“We’re going to keep making music; there’s just going to be more time between gigs,” she said. “That way I can record and work on these songs and have new and interesting stuff for people. I’m just going to go down there and listen to calypso and steel drum and reggae and get a tan in the winter — ya’ll are gonna hate me — and then come back and play shows and visit with my friends and family. I’m thrilled, but it’s a big move for me, because I’ve lived here my whole life.”

This weekend, Christabel and the Jons will perform at 10 p.m. at Preservation Pub, 28 Market Square in downtown Knoxville (with The Hotshot Freight Train), as one of her final East Tennessee performances before the move in early November. (There’s always the Hilltop Dance she plays every year, which takes place in October at the Mabry-Hazen House in Knoxville; this weekend’s show is her final bar gig, she said.) Gardner will sit in with her, giving fans a glimpse of the more intimate duo project on which the two are collaborating, she said.

“It’s really simple and honest,” she said. “We grew up singing a lot of the same folk songs and country songs and blues. We have an overlapping repertoire, and our voices sound great together. It gives me chillbumps when I’m singing with her. She’s the best haromny singer I’ve ever sang with, one of those who can ingeniously match the melody, and I get just the biggest musical pleasure out of doing that.”

Written by wildsmith

September 4th, 2012 at 6:54 am

Announcing ‘Waynestock 2: For the Love of Phil,’ Feb. 2-4 in Knoxville

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Last year’s Waynestock weekend was born out of tragedy — the death of Andrew Bledsoe, oldest son of long-time News Sentinel music writer Wayne Bledsoe.

The organizers — Tim and Susan Lee, Steve Wildsmith, Mic Harrison, Wil Wright and Jason Knight — didn’t know what to expect. All they knew was that a friend was in pain and a lot of mutual friends wanted to do something, anything, to help. And so a festival was born.

Over three days at Relix Variety Theatre in Downtown North Knoxville, musicians played and fans came, and the Bledsoe family received an outpouring of support. It was such a beautiful weekend, filled with love and music and community, that organizers knew almost immediately they wanted to do it again.

In November, tragedy once again struck the music community when Knoxville expatriate Phil Pollard died suddenly in his Virginia hometown. Although Phil departed Knoxville a few years back, the legacy he left behind — and continued to return to contribute to — is monumental in the local scene. Numerous groups benefited from his talent, and the local scene benefited from his whimsical, quirky, intellectual personality. Whenever Phil played, it was truly a show; music and art and some sort of zany magic all combined to make for nights of wonder, laughter and creative genius.

He left behind a wife and three daughters, and once again the East Tennessee music scene is being called upon to give back. Waynestock 2: For the Love of Phil will be a fundraiser for the educational fund of Phil’s three girls. It will be held again at Relix Variety Theatre, and in the same spirit as the original Waynestock, it will be three nights of love and light and remembrance and celebration, all for a good cause.

Performers include: Thursday, Feb. 2 — Songwriters in the Round featuring Jeff Barbra and Sarah Pirkle, Greg Horne, Kevin Abernathy and Jay Clark; Jack Rentfro and the Apocalypso Quartet; Ian Thomas; and Christabel and the Jons. On Friday, Feb. 3 — Sara Schwabe and Her Yankee Jass Band; The Lonetones; Tim Lee 3; R.B. Morris; and King Super and the Excellents. A post-Waynstock after-party, featuring the deejays of Magic Hu$tle (Lil iFFy, Tom Ato and more) will begin at 1 a.m. and continue into the early hours of Saturday, Feb. 4. And rounding out the weekend on Saturday night — The French (featuring Phil’s brother-in-law, Brett Winston); The Theorizt; Todd Steed and the Suns of Phere; Senryu; and finishing off the evening, an All-Star Tribute to Phil, featuring members of his various bands and some of the titans of the music scene paying homage to the man so many knew and loved.

This year’s organizers also include Rusty Odom, editor/publisher of Blank News; and Wayne Bledsoe, the festival’s namesake. In putting together this year’s lineup, organizers wanted to maintain the spirit of community that permeated the original through inclusion of some of last year’s acts, while at the same time including as many of the acts with which Phil was associated as possible. The groups scheduled for Waynestock 2 will continue the Knoxville spirit of talent, grace and beauty of spirit that made the first festival such a weekend of magic, and organizers believe its connection to Phil and the people who loved him will make it every bit as successful.

Admission is $5 per night, and the music begins at 7 p.m. each night. Other activities are being planned around the weekend-long event, the details of which will be announced in the coming weeks.

It’s an opportunity for those who feel they’ve received so much to give back … a chance for remembrance and celebration … a time for musicians and fans of all genres, styles and types of music to come together and lift their hands in unity for a guy who’s spent his life uniting an amazing East Tennessee music scene through his words.

We hope you’ll join us. For more information, check out the website set up for this event — www.waynestock.org, and look for further releases and e-mail blasts as the event draws closer.

It’s beginning to sound a lot like Christmas …

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We’re blessed with an abundance of holiday-minded musicians around these parts (my personal favorite holiday song by a local artist — “A Winter’s Tale,” by Mr. R.B. Morris), and this year, two of them are releasing holiday albums.

The first, “Christmas Gift” by Scott Miller, is a 7-song EP of holiday tunes — a couple of originals, a few traditional tunes with Miller’s original arrangements and a couple of covers. It’s both playful and solemn, fun and reverent. He writes, “Why a Christmas record?  Because I like Christmas, that’s why.  Plus, it’s a challenge.  Think of all the iconic songs and performances you are going up against.  I chose these songs and didn’t worry about the order because I figured people are going to hit the ’shuffle’ setting and let the snowflakes fall where they may.” Go here to order it and read more.


The second, slated for a Dec. 1 release, is “The Christmas Album,” by local “sultry Southern swing” trio Christabel and the Jons. “Packed with enough brass to satisfy Herb Alpert and featuring a great lineup of guest artists, including Andy Bean of the Two Man Gentlemen Band on ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside,’ ‘The Christmas Album’ is our most ambitious and best sounding album to date,” the band writes. Go here to pre-order it, and you can get a download code to get it before it’s released.


Christabel and the Jons will perform a holiday show (with The Actors Co-op) on Saturday, Dec. 18 at The Square Room in Knoxville; click here to order tickets. Scott Miller and the Commonwealth will rock “The Shed” at Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson on New Year’s Eve. Click here to get tickets for that.

Written by wildsmith

November 13th, 2010 at 6:22 pm

Christabel and the Jons update!

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It’s been about a year since we did a cover story on “sultry Southern swing” outfit Christabel and the Jons, and if you liked what you read (and heard) then, make plans to head over to The Square Room, 4 Market Square in downtown Knoxville, on Saturday for a holiday show by the group. According to a recent e-mail from the lovely Christabel DeCicco, there’s plenty of festivities planned for the show, which begins at 9 p.m.: “Pretty costumes, ‘bad’ Santa, an indoor snowball fight, lots of jokes, holiday cheer, and of course, classic swinging Christmas songs performed by me and Jons,” she writes.

In addition, if you’re in the mood for some of the band’s music, head over to the website and pay what-you-choose for a live album by the band:

“The new CD is called ‘Live from the Walnut Room’ and it’s available for download only on our new website,” she writes. “You decide what it’s worth.   Thank you all so much for your continued support and enthusiasm.”

You may recall (with a little help from us) that back in April, the band shot a video of a performance at The Capitol Theatre in downtown Maryville. In addition, the four-piece is excited about an upcoming tour — to the Virgin Islands, of all places. More from Christabel:

Announcing our dream tour to the Virgin Islands!  We’ve been in contact with the radio station WVGN for several years, and it’s finally paid off with 2 weeks worth of shows in the tropics.  Now, who’s coming with us?

The only catch about this tour is we have to buy our own plane tickets.  No easy feat for a poor swing band.  To raise money, we’re offering some unreleased tracks as well as other goodies on our online store.  Here are the dates:

2/23 – Fat Turtle, St. Thomas, USVI
2/24 – Fat Turtle, St. Thomas, USVI
2/24 – Island Blues, St. John, USVI
2/25 – Beach Bar, St. John, USVI
2/26 - Jolly Roger, Tortola, BVI
2/27 – Jolly Roger, Tortola, BVI
2/28 – Hull Bay Hideaway, St. Thomas, USVI
3/2 – Fat Turtle, St. Thomas, USVI
3/3 – Fat Turtle, St. Thomas, USVI
3/3 – Cariga’s, St. Thomas, USVI
3/4 – Tickles Dockside Pub, St. Thomas, USVI
3/5 – Blue Moon Cafe, St. Croix, USVI
3/6 – Cheeseburgers in Paradise, St. Croix, USVI
3/7 – Rhythms at Rainbow Beach, St. Croix, USVI
3/8 – Chicken Charlie’s, St. Croix, USVI
3/9 – Jasmine Manor BBQ, St. Croix, USVI

Damn. I wonder if they need the company of an official band biographer …

Written by wildsmith

December 16th, 2009 at 8:49 am

“Back to Tennessee,” starring … The Capitol Theatre!

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Remember a few weeks ago when we told you that local “sultry Southern swing” band Christabel and the Jons wanted Blount County patrons to dress in period attire and show up for a show at The Capitol Theatre, 127 W. Broadway Ave. in downtown Maryville? That’s because the band was shooting a video that night and wanted some swinging, dancing fans to look lively for the camera. That video, “Back to Tennessee,” is now up! Click here to watch it.

For a recent cover story (and related photo gallery) we did on Christabel and the Jons, click here.

To check out more of Christabel’s music — and find out some upcoming show dates — check out the group on Myspace.

To check out the Capitol online (and see what else is coming up there), go here.

Written by wildsmith

May 4th, 2009 at 8:20 am